Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island (Neighborhood), a not-for-profit health plan founded to serve Rhode Island’s at-risk populations, this month capped off celebratory initiatives around its 25th anniversary with an open house at its new offices in Smithfield. The event honored those who have played an important role in its history and celebrated its community partners.
Key elements of the open house included a formal dedication of Neighborhood’s executive boardroom to founders – the state’s original 14 community health centers – and the final donation of Neighborhood’s 25th Anniversary Charitable Giving Program. Neighborhood’s leadership team revealed wall signage commemorating its history, as well as made a $25,000 donation to the Rhode Island Health Center Association (RIHCA) – with which Neighborhood has a longstanding relationship – to fund education programming for the state’s community health centers. Neighborhood also extended thanks to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services for the state’s strong Medicaid program and for its partnership and shared goal in improving access to quality health care for the state’s most vulnerable populations.
The event capped off a series of events that have taken place over the last few months aimed at celebrating Neighborhood’s 25th anniversary and 19th consecutive year of distinguishing itself as one of the country’s only health plans to achieve “excellent” Medicaid accreditation status from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.
In December 1994, after a year of planning by the state’s original 14 community health centers, Neighborhood began serving its first 1,490 members – under resourced mothers and their young children. Today, Neighborhood serves approximately 195,000 members, or one in five Rhode Island residents, ensuring access to health care services for the state’s most at risk populations, as well as individuals, families and small businesses who purchase health insurance through HealthSource RI, the state’s health insurance marketplace.
“We’ve come a long way since our founders started having conversations in the basement of the Department of Health about creating a health plan for Rhode Island’s at-risk populations,” said Peter Marino, president and CEO of Neighborhood. “While much about the health care landscape has changed over the last two decades, one thing that has remained a constant is our steadfast commitment to our members and mission. We’re so proud, after all these years, to continue delivering on a mission that ensures every individual in the state has access to affordable, high-quality health care services. The dedication of our executive board room to our founders is a small token of our appreciation for their foresight 25 years ago.”
Peter Bancroft, one of Neighborhood’s original founders and current chairman of Neighborhood’s board of directors, said, “It really did take a leap of faith to get Neighborhood off the ground 25 years ago. In those early years, it was really a struggle, but we had a vision for a health plan to serve the underserved and that vision and purpose really drove us. It’s why Neighborhood remains strong today – caring for our most frail and underserved neighbors who receive primary care services, and in some cases dental care, at community health centers across the state. On behalf of my fellow founders, it’s an honor to be recognized through the dedication of the boardroom. I’d also like to thank Neighborhood for remaining true to our mission.”
Following the boardroom dedication, Marino presented the final donation of its 25th Anniversary Charitable Giving Program. The $25,000 donation to RIHCA is regarded by he and his leadership team as an effective way to advance the vision of community health centers as models for the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective primary care and the building blocks of community health in their respective communities.
Jane Hayward, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Health Center Association for nearly 13 years and vice-chairwoman of Neighborhood’s board of directors, said, “I was delighted when Neighborhood advised me about this contribution. The funds will allow us to continue our mission of supporting Rhode Island’s community health centers through programming based on their needs, as well as host lectures and trainings on topics important to advancing clinical knowledge and understanding changes in regulations and policies.”
Celebratory initiatives leading up to Neighborhood’s 25th anniversary have included a range of meaningful activities, including the launch and rollout of a 25th Anniversary Charitable Giving Program, a series of summer “pop-up” events which brought frozen treats to the staff and patients of the state’s community health center partners, and a 25th Anniversary Rally held in October during which Neighborhood leaders and staff formed a giant 25 in their front parking lot, broke out into a flash mob-style dance to “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang, and presented two Rhode Island non-profit organizations with donations. Additionally, Neighborhood launched a social media series, 25th Anniversary Fun Fact Fridays, beginning in September and scheduled to run through the end of the year, with the aim of sharing fun facts and figures about Neighborhood’s history.
In addition to RIHCA, other recipients of Neighborhood’s 25th Anniversary Charitable Giving Program include Adoption Rhode Island, which received a $2,500 donation in honor of Lincoln resident and longtime foster mom Eloise Ricci, at Neighborhood’s annual all staff meeting in June; and Help the Homeless RI and House of Hope CDC. The latter organizations, selected by Neighborhood employees, each received $2,500 donations at Neighborhood’s 25th Anniversary Rally held in October.